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Socastee wins Lower State wrestling title

  • Monday, February 17, 2014

Socastee beat St. James 39-28 earlier this month to clinch a region title, and beat the Sharks 42-30 on Saturday to win the Class AAA Lower State title.

Socastee head coach Jeff Gibbins was at a loss for words, but said the win was a culmination of years of work.

“We’ve been in cars driving or the last five or six years training for moments like this, and we’re almost there. We’ve got one more to go.”

“This is just one more step,” said Kyle Burton, whose win clinched the match. “We’re not done yet.”

Out of 13 contested matches, eight were won by pin.

St. James jumped off to quick 12-0 start, getting pins from MacKenzie Tecco (106 pounds) in the first period and Chase Smith (113) in the second period.

Dylan Martin (120) then got a pin in the second period to start a run of four straight Socastee wins.

“I knew it had to be done, so I had to go out there and get the job done,” Martin said.

After Martin, Justin Knipper (126) won by technical fall, Jordan Hodge (132) got a pin in the second period, and Brad Melnytskyy (138) won a decision to put the Braves ahead 20-12.

After St. James’ Michael Mewhorter (145) won a decision to cut the lead to 20-15, the next two matches took a combined two minutes and six seconds. Socastee’s John Leggett (152) got a pin at 1:02 and St. James’ Steven Deible (160) got a pin at 1:04.

St. James’ James Sanders (170) then won a decision to cut Socastee’s lead to 26-24 with four matches to go.

Zach Mor (182) got a pin in the second period and Joe Smolenski (195) won a major decision to put the Braves ahead 36-24.

Socastee needed one win in the final two matches to earn a trip to the state finals, and Burton (220) got a pin to seal the victory.

Burton said he was used to the pressure of having to win his match.

“I’ve had pressure since my first year, I was ready for it.”

Socastee forfeited the heavyweight match and the celebration began.

“I’d rather win a close one going into the state tournament than win by 30 points,” Gibbins said. “It helps the kids prepare mentally.”

“It’s a lot of hard work paying off,” Martin said. “We work hard and we’re hungry.”

Gibbins called the crowd in the Socastee gym “electric.”

“What makes it so special is we had somewhat of a home field advantage. It really worked out good for us.”

Socastee was scheduled to wrestle for a state title Wednesday night.

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